Let’s start with a simple scenario – you have a LearnDash based LMS, with a few online courses on it. You market them across all social media platforms and manage to get some decent amount of traffic to your website.
As the popularity of your online courses increases, you realize that your courses have real potential. You start creating more courses and are now ready to take your LearnDash LMS to the next level. So, what really is this next level?
Well, the answer is, taking your online courses to a larger audience.
But a sudden surge of learners can quickly overwhelm an eLearning system that doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to handle the load.
It can result in dissatisfied learners, bad reviews, refund demands, and everything else you dread. Your budding online career could get reduced to ashes before you even realize it!
So, how do you prepare for this growth and avoid disaster? You guessed it. The answer is to prepare for growth.
Let’s find out how!
#1 Get a Suitable Hosting Plan
To begin with, you need to conduct a thorough review of your existing hosting provider.
Did you face any issues with your current host? Is the support good enough? Does it guarantee 99% uptime? How much additional storage will you need?
An online learning program has a unique set of demands when it comes to the type of media (videos, images, audio) included in the course and the number of users accessing the content at the same time.
If you’re happy with your host, then you can always move to an upgraded plan that they’re offering. At the very least, you might want to consider letting go of a shared hosting plan, if you’re using one.
However, if you’re looking for alternate options, here’s a list of some good Hosting providers that we’d recommend.
#2 Optimize for Speed
A two-second delay in page load time can increase the bounce rate by more than 100%.”(Akamai)
If your website doesn’t load fast enough, your users will eventually make their way to your competition. You’re probably already aware of this, but even Google considers your page load speed as one of the major ranking factors in its search algorithms.
In simple words, speed matters. The faster your website, the better is your ranking.
Now, to really boost your site speed, you need to optimize everything from images to the database, and even your code. The good news is, a couple of off-the-shelf plugins could help you out with some of these optimization tasks. Here’s a list that might come in handy:
As far as the regular housekeeping tasks go, the plugins have you covered. But there’s more to achieving supersonic website speeds that this. An advanced optimization strategy would involve getting into your code, implementing structured data, and perhaps even enabling ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’.
#3 Tighten the Security
Millions of websites, WordPress and non-WordPress, get infected with malware at any given point in time.
A security breach on your website can cause some serious damage to your eLearning business. Hackers could steal your student data, your website could be used for distributing malicious code or it could even be destroyed or defaced.
Using a WordPress security plugin is a great way of securing your LearnDash LMS. These plugins help you with securing your learning platform and blocking any kind of brute force attacks on your website.
Here’s a list of some of the security plugins you could work with:
Each of these plugins offers some unique security features. You should evaluate all of them and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Having said that, we’ve worked with Sucuri for a number of client websites and found it to be the best. If you’re curious about what makes it soo special for us, you can skim through the snippet below.
#4 Automate Your Administrative Tasks
One of the most obvious measures you need to take while managing a huge website is to offload as many administrative tasks as you can.
When you’re working with a small number of students, responding to queries, sending introductory emails to new learners, and maintaining a discussion forum may not seem like too much effort. But as your eLearning business grows, it won’t be long before you find yourself overburdened with administrative tasks that pull you away from all the high-value work that you should actually be focusing on.
This is where automation can be a complete savior. For instance, the LearnDash Group Registration plugin helps you easily handle bulk enrollments and the LearnDash Notifications helps automate the notifications that you need to send to your learners (and it’s free absolutely free!).
Lately, we’ve also been receiving requests for developing custom LearnDash Quizzing Modules. Quizzes are an essesial part of any LMS, and can turn out to be a very poweful asset when used right.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re actually on the look-out for help, you’ll easily find LearnDash specific plugins or even generic software for marketing automation or Chatbots (like Crisp and Zendesk), etc. that can make your job easier.
Also, LearnDash LMSsupports integration with the popular automation tool Zapier. This tool will help you get all of your different apps and tools to work in perfect tandem with each other.
#5 Get Creative With Your Course Enrolments
Once you’ve created your online courses, your focus shifts to driving in traffic. Now, the norm is to have more people discover your courses so as to attain more profits. However, eLearning entrepreneurs are getting more and more creative when it comes to driving results. Naturally, you and your business will have to keep up.
One such strategy is to leverage the ‘exclusivity factor’ or as some would prefer to call it, the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’.
Here, the courses won’t be available for purchase at all times. Instead, enrollment for a course is opened for only a small time frame. Say, for example, during the first week of every month. These types of launches help create a sense of urgency that whips your audience into a buying frenzy.
It’s an extremely powerful technique. Not only do you reel in more students, but at the end of it, you’re also left with an additional asset in your conversion arsenal. Any guesses about what that could be?
It’s an email list of warm leads that are already interested in getting their hands on one of your courses.
Here’s a list of some other ways to take control of your courses:
- Provide a recurring payment plan: Let’s consider that you’re offering an online course for $1000. Your learners may not be willing to pay the huge sum upfront. A course of this magnitude may take a few months to complete. In that case, splitting the price into, say, 4 monthly payments of $250 each lowers the barrier to entry for learners.
- Offer freemium courses: Course takers are often hesitant about paying a huge sum of money at one go. More so when they have concerns about the quality of your course. In such cases, an introductory free course helps them assess your program so that they can easily make the decision. This micro-course course can serve as a great hook when it comes to increasing enrollments.
- Limit enrollment when possible: Limiting the enrollment period by either capping the class size or setting fixed term dates shuts down the delay instinct and helps close sales faster.
#6 Leverage Learner Generated Content
And in order to do that, you have to get your learners to turn their passive role into an active one. Learner-generated content may be in the form of online presentations, videos, or even links to useful sources of information.
Encouraging learner-generated content in eLearning promotes peer-to-peer interaction, which increases the pool of knowledge amongst your learners. But, you might have moderate the information that goes up on your platform.
Another thing you could do is recognize individual learners who contribute the best content and encourage them with a small token of appreciation.
Here’s a couple of ideas that might help with getting your learners to contribute:
- Start a discussion forum for your online course.
- Organize online discussions on a weekly or monthly basis.
- Build an internal Wiki or create a place for learners to share news, articles, and essays.
- Use social learning platforms
- Conduct Webinars and have Q&As
The most important derivative of this exercise is the insights that you get into your learner’s psyche.
You get to understand how they think, what interests them, which topics they have more affinity towards, what works and doesn’t work for them etc. All of this information could be key to generating quality course content in the future that’ll appeal to your audience.
#7 Make Reports and Analytics Your Best Friend
A good understanding of reports and analytics will help you take effective decisions and move your business in the right direction.
You can implement analytics and reporting metrics on your website with Pro Panel by LearnDash, which is available when you subscribe to their PLUS and PRO packages. It has a well-designed dashboard that gives you a complete idea of the figures and statistics that concern your online courses.
Truth be told, there are a number of ways you can gather data. In addition to LearnDash’s in-built reporting modules, you could always turn to Google Analytics, the User Insights tool for LearnDash, or even have a customized reporting module for your website.
Another very important thing to do would be to set up a strong feedback system. The WISDM LearnDash Ratings, Reviews, and Feedback plugin can help you with that.
The real question here is, what do you do with all this data?
Website analytics can tell you a lot about how visitors are interacting with your web pages and emails, but knowing how that data should influence your marketing strategy is a whole other matter.
I’m not giving you an analytics lesson here, but you need to be clear about a couple of things when it comes to gathering and utilizing all your information.
Questions like “What are the three most important priorities for your site?” or “What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?” are pretty board. If you’re looking for ‘actionable insights’, then your approach might need to be slightly different.
There’s a simple formula that might be of help:
Understanding website analytics can be tricky, but it’s worth taking the time to learn. Without user data, you’re practically shooting in the dark. And that obviously limits your potential when it comes to increasing course sales and even hampers your site’s user experience.
#8 Retain Your Audience
93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. (HubSpot Research)
See that? The better you service your learners, the more likely they are to come back for more.
Yes, your industry doesn’t technically need you to “service” your audience, but you do need to keep them entertained.
Today’s technology makes it possible for you to reinforce your course’s key objectives by simply continuing to engage with your students even after their course has been completed.
The idea is simple – after the learners complete their course, keep interacting with them for a couple of weeks. Keep sending mini-quizzes that are only one or two questions, giving them helpful tips relating to the content, infographics, and micro-videos.
Your goal is to capture their attention for a minute or two, pulling your course objectives back to the front of their minds.
I’ll chalk out a ‘Post-training engagement strategy’ for you as an example here.
Remember, the post-training engagement plan is meant to be short, simple and direct.
This plan was just one of the many things you could do. In fact, you could have a separate engagement plan for when users are actively taking your course. The best way to foster this kind of engagement is to use scheduled LearnDash Notifications or even email auto-responders. Email services like MailChimp or Sendy will help you easily set this up.
#9 Go All-in with Affiliate Marketing
In simple terms, you allow other entrepreneurs, website owners, or bloggers in your niche to sign up and start promoting or selling your courses. In exchange, when they deliver a visitor to your website and that visitor purchases your course, you pay the affiliate a percentage of the sale.
This commission percentage is generally decided by you but may vary from one niche to another, depending on the price of your product or even the affiliate you’re dealing with.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Get experts on board: You’ll be more successful with half a dozen well-seasoned affiliates who understand your subject matter and your audience than with several less effective ones.
- Optimize your affiliate recruitment page: Create a page on your website dedicated to your affiliate program, and make it the hub of your partnership programs.
- Spread the word on social media: Social media need not be limited to Facebook or linked in. You need to figure out where your ideal affiliates hang out.
- Network at industry events: Networking puts you in direct contact with the right people. They can learn about your course from you in person, and use the information while promoting your course.
- Reach out directly to influencers in your industry: There are plenty of influencers who might help sell your online course for some extra money. Look for bloggers, podcasters, or even other course providers covering adjacent topics.
These few points will help get you started with your affiliate marketing program. Growing your program will require marketing of its own kind. But once you’ve built a strong network of affiliates, they will not only grow your business for you, their success will build on itself to recruit more affiliates.
Somewhere down that road, you could hire a full-time affiliate manager and they can take care of the day-to-day affiliate activities so that you can focus on your core business.
A good affiliate manager knows how to manage and scale an affiliate program. They form connections, create winning promotional material, facilitate affiliate contests, and provide new ideas for promotion. If they do a good job then your affiliate program could become one of your greatest assets.
Just a couple of other pointers. You need to upgrade to the latest version of LearnDash 3.0. It is hailed as a game-changer by users and is setting new standards for online courses across the entire eLearning industry.
Secondly, you need to have a sturdy content maintenance plan in place. It is recommended that you review and revise your content every quarter. Make a clear checklist to follow, like updating or including a new list of lessons or text that need to be changed with time, remake videos, take new screenshots, etc. When you’re in the eLearning business then nothing is more damaging to your sales than outdated information.
Finally, invest in a mobile app for LearnDash. Today, we access most of our information through our mobile phones. A mobile app can increase student engagement, make your content more accessible, create more value for your students and boost your brand visibility. Owning a mobile app for your eLearning business today has become easier than ever, and is a survival game for your online business.
That’s about it for now.
What’s your take on scaling an eLearning business? Is there another growth hack that worked for you? Perhaps some great LearnDash plugins that helped you along the way?
Let us know in the comments section below.